By Tim Montgomerie
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What are we to make of the latest YouGov poll in The Sun which suggests that Labour's lead over the Tories would just about vanish if Boris was Tory leader?
What hypothetical polls cannot measure is what would happen if a bloody and acrimonious leadership election was necessary to replace Cameron. What this snapshot poll can't measure is whether support for Boris will fade as Olympic memories fade. Will people become bored with the Boris routine? On the other side of the equation, however, these polls don't measure the unknown upside of potentially switching to Boris. Boris could stand on a balanced, full-spectrum manifesto. He could offer a referendum on Europe, a new 10p tax band for lower-paid workers and could put new generation stars like Sajid Javid, Liz Truss, Priti Patel, Andrea Leadsom and Dom Raab at the top of his team. He could represent a decisive break with the compromises and hard choices of the Coalition period.
He could do all of these things but, on Sunday, I set out why I think Cameron will survive as Tory leader. I imagine that Team Cameron will share the conclusion of The Sun's Political Editor, Tom Newton-Dunn. He writes that today's Sun poll proves that Labour's lead is "strikingly soft". I'm sensing lots of optimism from my contacts in Numbers 10 and 11 at the moment (and not just because Tom's own newspaper is warming to Cameron again). They think economic recovery is on the way. If we're within spitting distance of Labour with economic growth at minus 0.7%, they say, we can close the gap when the economy is growing by 1.5%. They see Obama's re-election as potentially huge. If President Obama can be re-elected despite a sluggish economy – and also against an uncharismatic opponent – they'll have fresh hope about Tory prospects.
PS This table released by YouGov (click to enlarge) does underline the power of the Boris brand;